90.5 WESA's 'Good Question' Series

We're starting something new at 90.5 WESA. It's an experiment where you bring us questions—and we go out to investigate and find answers.

So: What have you always wondered about Pittsburgh? Are you curious how your neighborhood originally received its name? Or maybe why the Mon and Allegheny Rivers are different colors when they merge at the Point? Or maybe you've always wanted to know what happened to all of our street cars and inclines? From serious to silly, we're here to help.

 

 

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Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


Behind a chain link fence on Montana Street in Pittsburgh's Perry North neighborhood lies a brick maintenance building, a looming radio tower and a collection of discarded satellites.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


Driving in Pittsburgh is confusing. The streets aren’t on a grid system and going over the wrong bridge could result in a long, unwelcomed detour.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The ornate, four-story building at 413-415 Wood Street is abuzz with the sounds of construction. Landmarks Development Corporation is restoring the space to make way for fashion boutique Peter Lawrence this summer.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny Cemetery stretches 300-acres in Lawrenceville, bordered by Butler Street, Stanton Avenue and Mossfield Street. Between the rows of headstones and mausoleums that line the burial ground, many people run into some four-legged visitors.

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Downtown Pittsburgh today is known, in part, for the entertainment it hosts. It's a place one can see Broadway shows, art galleries and music festivals, sometimes all in the same night. But in the not-so-distant past, a section of the city was home to a different type of entertainment.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

In western Pennsylvania and West Virginia, three towns all share an astronomical feature in their names. None of them have an observatory, and no groundbreaking space discoveries were made in any of them, but the trio of cities, within 200 miles of each other, all begin with the word “star.”

David Cook, of Whitehall, brought the idea to the attention of 90.5 WESA’s Good Question series. He wondered about the origins of Star City, Wv., Star Junction, Pa. and Starbrick, Pa.

AP

While he was working on the US Constitution, James Madison realized there was a pretty fundamental part of state governments that seemed useless to regulate.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA


Traveling from Forbes Avenue on Duquesne University’s campus to the South 10th Street Bridge, drivers and pedestrians making a right into the Armstrong Tunnel encounter something unusual for a tunnel: a curve.

Keith Srakocic / AP

This winter’s saturating rains and repeated freeze-thaw cycles have led to damaged roofs, thousands of potholes and landslides across several steep city hillsides. What are Pittsburgh leaders doing to help the 20 families displaced by Mother Nature, and how can they better address infrastructure needs?

90.5 WESA's Margaret J. Krauss joins the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Bob Bauder to discuss.

Coming up next....

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

Pasted to the wall of Department of City Planning is a large, colorful map of Pittsburgh. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

*UPDATED

Cars rumble overhead as historian John Schalcosky trudges through crunching snow beneath the 40th Street Bridge in Lawrenceville. Gesturing toward the Allegheny River bank, he flicks on his iPhone flashlight.

Miller Library / Pennsylvania Trolley Museum

Our Good Question! series fields a lot of questions around Pittsburgh transit, from the history of streetcars to the creation of light rail. We pulled together a variety of questions for this short history.

OFF 84, Detre Library and Archives / Heinz History Center

The steep drive up P.J. McArdle Roadway takes drivers from the Liberty Bridge to the top of Mt. Washington's scenic overlook. It reveals a stunning view of Pittsburgh’s skyline and three rivers, from the Point State Park Fountain to the Birmingham Bridge. 

Doug Brendel / Heinz History Center

Lewis Marascalco remembers the buzz he and his fellow engineers felt while they were working on a futuristic transportation system everyone was calling “Skybus.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

"Broadcasting from Pittsburgh’s historic South Side, this is 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh’s NPR news station."

52 Things You May Have Learned From WESA In 2017

Dec 15, 2017
Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

We reported hundreds of stories over the past year—here are the most surprising, world-changing, bizarre, interesting, tragic and important pieces from our reporters.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh is many kinds of city: it’s a sports city, it’s a robotics city, it’s a ketchup city. But at its most essential, Pittsburgh is a city of steep hills. In the early 1900s, public staircases were built all around the city to help people navigate challenging terrain. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Alongside Route 51 by a Denny’s and a Huntington Bank in West Mifflin, there are two round, rust-colored sculptures. There’s no informational plaque, and there are no signs posted.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

On the corner of Penn Avenue and Seventh Street in downtown Pittsburgh, there’s a blue and gold plaque that reads “The Pittsburgh Agreement.”

Teenie Harris / Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh: Heinz Family Fund

The year 1954 was a significant one in Pittsburgh: Jonas Salk administered the first polio vaccine to students in Lawrenceville, Roberto Clemente was drafted by the Pirates and Hill District resident Paul Jones became the first black man to sit on Pittsburgh City Council.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The famous, or perhaps infamous, Pittsburgh accent is as central to the Steel City’s identity as Terrible Towels and yellow bridges.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

There are more than a few Egyptian-themed tombs sprinkled amid the sprawling expanse of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Cemetery, but among the looming obelisks, pyramidal headstones and even its fellow mausoleums, there is one imposing white granite structure that stands out.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s tunnels are considered the gateway to the city. More than 229,000 people drive through the Liberty, Fort Pitt, Squirrel Hill and Stowe tunnels each day.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

On the corner of Bartlett Street and Panther Hollow Road in Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park, there’s a colorful, decorated bench. Depending on the season, it could be painted like an American flag, covered in shamrocks or decked out for the Buccos.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

Honking car horns, screeching tires and the thunderous rumble of truck engines surround passersby on East Ohio Street. The street, while not Pittsburgh’s busiest, is among the noisiest. 

For most of the history of Pittsburgh, elected officials have been white men. But in 1956, then-Mayor David L. Lawrence did something unheard of: he appointed a woman to City Council.

That woman was Irma D’Ascenzo, an Italian-American Hazelwood resident who was working as secretary and chief examiner for the city's Civil Service Commission. Throughout World War II, and in the years following, she’d been volunteering and was active in her community.

D’Ascenzo’s great-granddaughter, Jeanne Persuit, said Lawrence recognized that rising to council was a natural step for her.

Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation

Take a walk through downtown or  the North Shore and it seems everything, from Pirates caps to government buildings to Heinz Field, radiates black and gold. The colors are synonymous with Pittsburgh sports and culture.

James Benney III / General Photograph Collection, Detre Library & Archives Heinz History Center

Even before Pittsburgh was topping “most livable” listicles and getting attention as the “next Brooklyn,” it attracted travelers from around the country.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Terry Grantz stood on a swaying dock, pointing to a massive, off-white concrete block. He’s the manager of Lockwall One Marina, a private facility in the Strip District below the Cork Factory Lofts.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Walking down Fourth Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh, it might feel like you’re being watched. And you are.

There are about a dozen pairs of eyes glaring down at the street. They’re made of gray and brown stone, some with intricate carved manes. Lions are a common sight on this stretch of downtown, and they have a very important job: to guard.

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